A journey of religious devotion.

Pilgrims return home with a sense of joy and fulfillment.
A security personnel keeps watch as Hindu devotees trek along mountains near Baltal area towards Amarnath cave. [Representational Image]
A security personnel keeps watch as Hindu devotees trek along mountains near Baltal area towards Amarnath cave. [Representational Image] File: Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Amarnath Cave holds a mystical significance in the hearts of Hindu devotees. Every year, thousands of pilgrims from all corners of our country embark on a journey to seek the blessings of Lord Bhole Nath. Situated at 34.1 latitudes and 75.5 longitudes, with an elevation of 13,904 feet above sea level, the pilgrimage to the Amarnath Cave is undoubtedly challenging.

However, fueled by unwavering faith and love for Lord Shiva, devotees endure all hardships and torments along the way, arriving at the sacred destination to bow in reverence and experience unparalleled bliss and ecstasy. In the face of such profound spiritual experiences, the pains of the arduous journey are forgotten, and pilgrims return home with a sense of joy and fulfillment.

The realization that every journey is auspicious and divine leads individuals towards spirituality. While we may choose different paths in our spiritual quests, our ultimate destination remains the same—spiritual fulfillment. Embracing diverse courses to reach a common goal is not problematic, but considering one path as the ultimate truth and engaging in arguments about its superiority only reveals ignorance and intolerance.

Fortunately, our Kashmiri culture has always been marked by its unwavering tolerance and acceptance of various paths to spiritual fulfillment. Within the rishi culture of Kashmir, we hold Nunda Rishi and Lalla Aishwariya in high esteem, recognizing their contributions to our heritage. We have cultivated a unique Ganga-Jamuni culture, a harmonious blend of diverse spiritual traditions, lovingly nurtured by our ancestors.

We are very proud to have a poet, Zinda Kaul, Lala Ded, Rupa Bhawani, Russal Mir, Nunda Rishi, and Wahab Khar…

“The fading moonlight in the last hours of the night,

The sweet fragrance of flowers everywhere,

The music of the heavens and the magic in the air,

Perhaps he is just about to arrive,

Perhaps he has come,

The one who waits for me,

My eternal lover.”

(Zinda Kaul)

“Wear just enough to keep the cold out,

Eat just enough to keep hunger from your door.

Mind, dream yourself beyond Self and Others.

Remember, this body is just picking for jungle crows.”

(Lalla Ded)

We take immense pride in the works of poets like Zinda Kaul, Lala Ded, Rupa Bhawani, Russal Mir, Nunda Rishi, and Wahab Khar, whose words have left an indelible mark on our cultural tapestry. Their verses evoke the enchantment of the fading moonlight, the fragrance of flowers, the celestial melodies, and the anticipation of meeting the eternal lover—symbolizing the yearning for spiritual union.

In our rishi culture, there is no room for intolerance, religious bias, or bigotry. Rishi culture encompasses its customs and creed, transcending the boundaries of religious affiliations. Whether one is a Rishi Muslim or a Rishi Pandit, the common thread is the pursuit of spiritual fulfillment. While the paths may differ, there is no need for argument or contention because ultimately, all paths lead to the same goal.

The Amarnath Yatra, along with the Mela-Kheerbawani and Mela-Baderakali, stands as towering examples of our rishi culture. These religious customs embody a culture that recognizes every faith as a valid path to spiritual fulfillment. Year after year, the Amarnath Yatra and the auspicious melas echo the foundations laid by Nunda Rishi, Lalla Aishwariya, and countless other revered figures who embodied tolerance and spiritual fulfillment.

Beyond the economic aspects, Amarnath pilgrims bring with them a profound message—the message of the Ganga-Jamuni culture. Witnessing people from different corners of our country come together, sharing experiences and interacting with local Muslims is an overwhelming spectacle for those who comprehend its significance. Despite the linguistic differences, it is the deep spiritual and cultural bond we share that leaves a lasting impact. This exemplifies the essence of the Ganga-Jamuni culture.

The Amarnath Yatra, year after year, conveys a great message. In our culture, religious radicalism has no place. Rishi culture and radicalism are inherently incompatible. One cannot simultaneously pursue violent ideologies and foster spiritual ways—the two are fundamentally contradictory. It is as contradictory as claiming an object is at rest while also in motion. We, the Kashmiri people, rooted in our rishi culture, embrace love and tolerance, but we reject violence. Our hearts and meadows welcome pilgrims, but we have no room for fanatics whose minds are filled with dogmatism.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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